Happy New Year! It is my prayer that you all have a prosperous and joyful 2022.
Mark Rossmann is back with his 1/48 Nichimo Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu “Dragon Slayer” (Allied code name “Nick). Even though this kit was initially released in 1975, as you can see from the pictures provided by Mark, the kit is a very nice representation of the Ki-45. The kit’s cockpit detail is sparse, but it has very nice recessed panel lines and slightly over done rivet detail. Nice kit considering its age.
The aircraft depicted in Mark’s build is a Ki-45 Kai type Tei of the 3rd Hikotai, 53rd Sentai. This variant of the Ki-45 was equipped with a 37 mm Ho-203 cannon in the nose, and two 20 mm Ho-5 cannons installed between the front and rear cockpit crew positions, fitted to fire upwards at a fixed angle of 32 degrees. This configuration allowed the Ki-45 night fighters to come from behind and below B-29 formations when making their attacks.
Originally designed as a long range two seat heavy fighter, the Japanese learned, just like the Germans did with the Messerschmitt Bf 110, that heavier twin engine fighters did not fare well in aerial combat against the faster and more nimble single engine fighters. Like the Bf 110, the Ki-45 was adapted into the night fighter role to defend the Home Islands against the night time fire bombing raids being carried out by B-29s under the command of General Curtis LeMay. As part of the desperate defense of the Home Islands in the last few months of the Pacific War, the Ki-45 was also used in one-way ramming missions in an attempt to turn back the ever increasing B-29 bombing missions.
Below is a photo of the actual plane while the 53rd Sentai was stationed at Matsudo Air Base in 1945. Even more interesting is the plane in the foreground showing the installation of the two upward firing 20mm Ho-5 cannons.
Mark used Aeromaster’s Empire Defenders Pt. II decal sheet (48-171) for the decals. This sheet was originally released in 1994 and is no longer in production, but it pops up on eBay every so often. As of the date of this post, Ultracast has one left in stock at an inflated price.
Tamiya AS-17 IJA Dark Green from a rattle can was used to paint the model along with Testor’s flat white for the home defense bands.
Unfortunately, I was not able to determine who the pilot or pilots were that flew this plane in combat from my limited reference materials. If you follow this blog, and know the answer to this question, please share that information with us.
The only aftermarket products for this kit are masks. Both Dead Design Models (VM48031 & VM48065) and Montex (MM48141) currently manufacture masks that can be used for this model. Dead Design Models can be found here: http://www.deaddesignmodels.com/en/. Montex can be found here: http://www.montex-mask.com/en/home. Check these companies out if you have this model.
Thanks again to Mark Rossmann for sharing this build with us!
1. “B-29 Hunter: Ki-45 Dragon Slayer”; Mark L. Rossmann.
2. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF; Komi Tataki & Henry Sakaida; Osprey Aviation Elite 5; Osprey Publishing Limited 2001.
3. Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1931-1945; Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa & Christopher Shores; Grub Street 2002.